Rumor of the day: Putin's military chief of staff has been "suspended"

(AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, file)

This comes from one of Zelensky’s advisors and even he says it’s “preliminary” so take it for what it’s worth. The Ukrainians have apparently been wrong before in alleging that misfortune has befallen Valery Gerasimov.

But he *did* miss Monday’s Victory Day parade, an unthinkable omission on a day celebrated in Russia with almost religious reverence. He’s the chief of staff; apart from Putin and defense minister Sergei Shoigu, no one at the parade would have been more exalted than Gerasimov. Where was he?

Was he wounded in an attack while visiting the Donbas, as some Ukrainians claimed earlier this month? U.S. officials are suddenly keen to make it known that they’re not helping Ukraine target Russian generals, contrary to earlier reports, and they *certainly* wouldn’t help them target a figure as important as Gerasimov.

Maybe he’s wounded. Or maybe he has bigger problems.

[Zelensky advisor Oleksiy] Arestovych, speaking to dissident Russian lawyer and politician Mark Feygin on YouTube last night, said: ‘According to preliminary information, Gerasimov has been de-facto suspended. They are deciding whether to give him time to fix things, or not.’

He added: ‘The commander of the first tank army of the western military district Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel has also been arrested and fired after the first tank army was defeated near Kharkiv.’

Two further army commanders have been fired due to heavy battlefield losses, according to information released on a Telegram channel run by the Ukrainian interior ministry, which also claimed the commander of the Black Sea fleet has been sacked and arrested and his vice admiral has been placed under investigation.

It’s unclear why Gerasimov was in Ukraine at the start of May. Originally it was thought that he had been sent to the front to put things right and take command of the war himself, but reports claimed that he was on his way back to Russia after just a few days. Possibly he was there to get a first-hand sense of how fixable the situation was and returned to Putin with the glum verdict, “Not very fixable.” And maybe that made Putin angry enough to put Gerasimov on ice for awhile, a potential scapegoat for a war that hasn’t gone according to plan.

It would also explain Putin’s surprisingly subdued performance at the Victory Day parade. The world expected him to rage against the west, rattle his nuclear saber, and even order a full mobilization of the Russian people. Instead he spoke for 10 minutes and didn’t say much. If in fact a figure as esteemed as Gerasimov had delivered some bad news to him beforehand about the prospects for victory, Putin would have reason to trust that assessment. And to be appropriately depressed by it.

Also worth noting is that what Arestovych said about Russian defeats near Kharkiv appears to be true. Ukraine has gained ground around in that area over the past few weeks and has reportedly now pushed the Russians out of artillery range of the city. “If true – and if Ukrainian troops can maintain their momentum – then this could outflank and threaten the main Russian offensive in the south,” Forbes reported yesterday. “While premature to claim that this is a turning point in the war, it would force the Russian high command to divert forces northwards, and to juggle fighting on multiple fronts.”

It’s not going great in Donetsk either:

Biden’s commerce secretary testified at a Senate hearing yesterday that when the Ukrainians recover Russian military equipment such as tanks in the field, increasingly they’re finding repurposed semiconductors from refrigerators and other commercial appliances. That’s western sanctions at work, choking off the supply of components that Russia needs to keep its war machine moving. Allegedly some of Russia’s tank factories have shut down production because they can’t get the parts they need to make their products. All of which means that time is on Ukraine’s side. Russia may eventually run out of weapons but Ukraine won’t.

…unless, that is, populists here in the U.S. prevail upon American public opinion to save Putin by turning off the tap for Zelensky:

What’s the “MAGA solution” on how to use Ukraine war spending to solve the baby-formula shortage? The shortage is being caused by a bacteria problem at a key factory, supply-chain difficulties, and a terrible FDA policy preventing European baby formula from being sold domestically. What does any of that have to do with weapons for the Ukrainians?

Mark Levin knows what’s going on:

I’ll leave you with this short but horrifying surveillance footage from earlier in the war as a reminder of what the Ukrainians are up against.